The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said Friday that its officers and members are facing harassment by state security agents over the strike teachers are currently pursuing in search of a starting salary of Z$1.7 billion (US$280) a month.
The union said organizers in Masvingo were briefly detained by police at rural Chikato School on Friday after a headmaster called police. The union reported harassment in Matabeleland, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland provinces as well.
Earlier this week police in Masvingo summoned PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou demanding that he explain his union’s position on the strike. The union said 80% of state primary and secondary schools have been hit by the labor action.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai urged the government to heed complaints by teachers about poor working conditions or face further deterioration of the education system.
Zhou told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the strike is gaining momentum despite opposition by the rival Zimbabwe Teachers Association.
But a spokesman for the Zimbabwe Teachers Association professed ignorance of any strike by teachers, saying Zimbabwean teachers do not need to strike because negotiations with the government are at an advanced stage.
Association President Tendai Chikowore told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the PTUZ has resorted to mudslinging against its rival labor organization.